Community Alliance response


In its Aug. 6 editorial, the Steamboat Pilot & Today suggested the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley should expect "public scrutiny" of its mission and agenda. We wholeheartedly agree and welcome the opportunity to publicly define our mission and agenda, as well as address the controversy surrounding Dr. Stephen Aigner's presentation to his former colleagues and students at Iowa State University.

First, let us define our mission and agenda. The mission of the Community Alliance is "to help preserve the natural environment of the Yampa Valley, enhance the quality of human life, retain the unique character of our community and to build a sustainable society in harmony with nature." CAYV pursues its mission through advocacy, education and participation in local decision- and policy-making processes.

CAYV is an advocate of smart growth, which essentially is embodied in the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan and the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan. It is a term that focuses a town's future development on solid principles of thoughtful community planning. Those principles require: providing affordable housing; planned public parks; sustainable practices that preserve natural, cultural and economic resources for future generations; and development that pays its fair share to compensate for socio-economic and other impacts. Preventing runaway growth that results in over-building, vacated commercial districts, and overburdened services such as water and roads is another requirement.

Examples of these principles in action include the 2007 Inclusionary Zoning and Linkage Ordinance, CAYV's efforts to save the community $4.6 million in building-use tax, planned unit developments that meet requirements for architectural integrity and public benefit, and standing up for the public's priorities and desires as espoused in the SSACP, WSSAP, Vision 2020 and 2030 and periodic community surveys.

In communities across the country experiencing rampant growth and the prospect of losing their identity to the zeal of developers, organizations advocating smart growth principles help the citizens of those communities maintain their heart and soul. More often than not, they do this in the face of overwhelming odds, and, in some cases, intimidation and fear of retribution.

Let us correct the record. Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley does not advocate a "no-growth" policy. We understand that growth is inherent in any vibrant and dynamic community, and we embrace that. But we also have seen the effects of rampant and uncontrolled growth on communities. Witness the bankrupt petitioner of the approved annexation in Minturn, the bankrupt subdivision in Hayden, and the infrastructure issues in Stagecoach.

CAYV hopes Steamboat Springs would be able to stand up to the pressures of externally driven development and keep its small-town character intact as we, the citizens, decide how this community can grow in harmony with the beauty that lies within the Yampa Valley. It is no coincidence that these attributes of small-town character and natural beauty, in addition to Western heritage, are cited as our greatest economic assets and top priorities to preserve and maintain time and time again.

Although we may have our disagreements with some council members and developers, we all can readily agree that we don't want to spoil the special nature of this place we call home.

How can we prevent that spoilage?

First, it is incumbent upon all of us to understand the forces and pressures of development on this valley. Potentially, more than a billion dollars of revenue was in the construction pipeline in the ski area base alone before the financial meltdown. Add to that an annexation that will nearly double our population and shouldn't all of us be paying attention?

Second, we need to understand what connections developers have with the community and what pressures they put on elected officials and people in positions of power. This includes the pressures on the Pilot & Today and other information outlets that rely heavily on advertising revenues from the development, construction and real estate industries to bring us our daily news.

We can only hope that the citizens of Steamboat Springs, as well as the City Council, developers and Realtors, rise to the occasion and help the town implement smart growth policies that preserve the community's character and its natural beauty. CAYV operates on the fundamental premise that all of us lose if either were compromised. Holding ourselves accountable is essential.

As to Aigner's comments about CAYV and Steamboat, we regret that his academic presentation to a college class was confused with his civic role as CAYV's administrator. While the presentation and candid look at this community cannot be denied or hidden, it should be taken in the context of a professor of sociology explaining to a far away audience how the forces of development can negatively impact a community and how difficult a role it is for any counterforce to have a positive impact.

When a person or community has a mirror put in front of them (figuratively speaking), they tend to react in one of two ways: break the mirror or look inward and reflect on that with which they have been confronted. The Pilot & Today, in its one-sided attack on Aigner and the CAYV, chose to break the mirror.

We are perplexed why Aigner and the Community Alliance have been singled out for this tabloid-type exposure. The Community Alliance has achieved its status by the ideas and insight it has brought to the table, not its agenda nor its spokespeople. There are many other groups lobbying City Council, yet none of them are having their "agendas, spokespersons or their members" scrutinized by the local newspaper. If the Pilot & Today spent this much effort investigating all City Council candidates and interest groups, we would have a much more informed electorate.

Going forward, we hope the community can stand up to the pressures of growth, help promote smart growth principles and view the Alliance as an ally in keeping the heart and soul of Steamboat intact.

Yours in building a better community,

Jack White, Rich Levy, John Whittum, Bob Enever, Towny Anderson, Jodee Anderson, Keith Giglio, Katharine Gaylord, Leslie Lovejoy, Cindy Wither, Sally Testrake, Lynn Abbott, Chuck Abbott, Hope Cook, Holly Williams, Jeff Morehead, Robert R. White, Michael Arsulich, Jack Dysart, Roger Steen, Leslie Steen, Paul Stettner, Gil Barbier


JLM 7 years, 8 months ago

The only problem with this utterance is that it has nothing to do w/ growth but rather attempts to make normal and healthy growth --- even the natural recycling of the built environment which has outlived its useful design life --- into a pinata to be filled with questionable feel good liberal initiatives to be paid for by the very growth they oppose.

The simple truth of the matter is that Steve Aigner spoke the truth when he said that he and the CAYV had been "fighting" growth for years and would be content with "no growth".

Why are they being held up to scrutiny? Because their administrator/organizer/spokesman is a big fat liar and the Pilot unearthed his lies.

Good on ya, Pilot!

There is a difference between chicken salad and chicken excrement --- the CAYV needs to learn the difference!


Scott Wedel 7 years, 8 months ago

The CAYV is not going to answer the public scrutiny by saying "academic presentation to a college class was confused with his civic role as CAYV's administrator".

The fundamental flaw with that argument is that it was an academically terrible speech with serious factual errors and a consistent theme of advocacy. It was not a lecture of an academic, but of the CAYV administrator visiting friends.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 8 months ago

It also showed how little the CAYV has for the poor "ignorant" (Steve Aigner's words) people of Steamboat. Mis-direction will not win back the real community's respect of the Shadow Community Alliance of the YV. You also have to love that they claim victory for the 2007 Affordable Housing initiative even while it's failure becomes more obvious every day.

I support finding and implementing a real sustainable path to providing affordable housing but their plan put market rate affordable housing out of reach of our citizens far faster than it hoped to create AH which by the way was undesireable and un-financable to those that it purported to help. That is insulting and a waste of 2 year plus countless dollars. The worst part is that it will delay finding the right solution for even longer given what a failure it has been.


JLM 7 years, 8 months ago

"We are perplexed why Aigner and the Community Alliance have been singled out for this tabloid-type exposure."

Let me help --- because your spokesman/organizer/administrator is a big fat liar and the Pilot exposed his lies. What difference does it make if it's "tabloid-type" if it's true? Huh, John Edwards?

"The Community Alliance has achieved its status by the ideas and insight it has brought to the table, not its agenda nor its spokespeople."

The CAYV is a secretive organization which despises the "ignorant" and "uninformed" SBS citizen and which has the typical liberal hubris of thinking they know better. The status they have now, in fact, achieved is that they cannot be trusted, their public utterances are at odds with their private agenda and they hold the average citizen of SBS in contempt.

What's missing here?

Oh, yeah, how about a simple apology. Parting company with their resident charlatan? A promise to clean up their act and to earn the public's trust through candor, honesty and transparency?

Continuing to defend the indefensible clarifies the recent realization as to who and what the CAYV truly is --- an unabashed advocate for "no growth" and an arrogant opponent of growth in almost any reasonable form.

The CAYV is not a trusted steward of the future of SBS. They are poseurs given to tricking the "simple minded" citizens of SBS.

A pox on them and good on the Pilot!


steamboatsprings 7 years, 8 months ago

Well said JLM if they have made anything completely clear it is that they can't be trusted and they don't represent anyone but their own narrow agenda. They have moved far beyond any chance at restoring any credibility.


Karen_Dixon 7 years, 8 months ago

CAYV: Thanks for at least answering one of the questions that I posed in a previous blog: "How do you define Smart Growth?" Your spin on it is interesting and, in my mind, defines you as a glass-half-empty organization, with a pessimistic, derogatory opinion of growth, at best. It is evident that you are completely biased against growth.

Anyone even partially familiar with Smart Growth will spot this spin. For those of you, including CAYV members, who would like to educate yourselves on Smart Growth principles, [lest ye be considered dare I say it ignorant] please spend some time on For those who have less time, Wikipedia actually has a decent, though fairly broad-stroked, definition.

Smart Growth, by definition, assumes growth. It is a response to the post-war explosion of suburban segregated development whose premise was 1) economical housing for the masses, and 2) separation of uses in search of quality of life. The Smart Growth movement recognizes that there were flaws [or shall we say unintended consequences] in this post-war thinking. It attempts to identify these effects and causes, and put forth an idea about how to grow in a more sustainable fashion.

CAYV: If you are such an advocate of Smart Growth, where were you during the last 4 or 5 Planning Commission hearings / worksessions in which we discussed TND zoning standards, a critical and primary tool for implementing Smart Growth principles? Did you consider it a waste of your time since the zoning standards will be implemented first in the West of Steamboat area and your ultimate goal may be to quash West of Steamboat development? Did you feel that a more concerted CAYV effort should be given toward creating doubt and casting dispersion on public and private entities working toward implementing a well-vetted community growth plan in which Smart Growth is "essentially embodied?" I am suspicious.


steamboatsprings 7 years, 8 months ago

Karen, how dare you present facts? The CAYW is working hard to do what is best for you and only they know what is best.


John Barrett 7 years, 8 months ago

Interesting that the CAYV claims $4.6M in Building Use Tax "savings"

The CAYV seems to be intent on not using easily obtainable public data or never let the facts stand in the way of a good self aggrandizement...

If you look at the following website

YTD Use tax in 2009 is $373,878 Total Use tax in 2008 was $607,377

Assuming 100% of ALL the use tax collected was because the CA "saved us".

Total Use Tax receipts since 1/1/08 is $981,255

If we ASSUME 100% of this $981,255 is BECAUSE of the CAYV, we are left with another question for the CA:..where is the $3.6 million difference?

Or is this like 200 people represent a majority?

The lack of scholarly research into basic facts is completely unacceptable.

It simply looks like more evidence the CAYV holds the average Steamboat Citizen in such low regard such that we will believe it just because they say it.

BTW, what happened to the "Steve and Steve", are they not part of the CAYV or was this just an oversight when the names list was published?


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

This Steve just returned from a 7 day Yampa trip. (With my friend of 25+ years, Steve H. - Life is full of Steves, and I do enjoy the humor.) Thus my absence from the signatures above.

The Use Tax $4.6 (I thought it was 4.5) came from the acting City Finance Director. The Pilot published the same numbers.

2005-2007 were boom years. 2008-2009 were ... NOT.


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

Karen, CAYV chooses a given issue which it finds important. I've been involved with the growth committee, which has chosen the annexation as a focus. I'll apologize that we don't have the ability to critique everything that goes into the annexation.

I have represented to my committee that the master planning aspects of SB700 looked well done, based on my study of them as a planning commissioner. John Whittum's letter to the editor acknowledged this benefit of SB700, I believe.

If I had raised concerns with the land use planning of SB700, I expect we would have spent time there. Since that juncture, my committee has been more interested in these big questions: affordability benefits and fiscal balance of the annexation. Is this intention not an advocacy for smart growth?


Steve Lewis 7 years, 8 months ago

I had the pleasure of hearing SB700's attorney, Bob Weiss, express to City Council his appreciation for the "businesslike and professional manner" with which the City Planning Commission had handled its hearings on SB700 in the winter of 2007-2008.

The chair of those Planning Commission hearings?

Me, Steve Lewis

Yet I've also been active as a member of Community Alliance for years. Some conspiracy, huh. Guess I didn't get the memo.


JLM 7 years, 8 months ago

Steve, get the memo? You wrote the memo! The other Steve has really missed your spirited and loyal defense. He has been getting hammered pretty good. I think that Steves should only travel in pairs!


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